Charity regulator urges donors to only support official Afghan aid groups

Watchdog has issued warning to prevent fraud

A child rests next to a wheelbarrow filled with carrots in Balkh, Afghanistan. More than three million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by March 2022, UK charities say.  Photo: AFP

The UK charity watchdog has urged people wishing to help ease the crisis in Afghanistan to only support official aid groups.

It follows the launch of the Disasters Emergency Committee's Afghanistan Crisis Appeal.

The DEC has brought together 15 leading registered UK charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently, to help the people of Afghanistan.

It launched its appeal last week to help relieve what the UN World Food Programme has described, as “the worst humanitarian crisis on earth”.

The Charity Commission has now given a warning that it is vital that any donations reach those in need.

It says by supporting registered charities, including through the DEC, the public can be assured that their donations will be regulated in line with the charity law framework.

Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, warned people to be aware of fraudsters.

"The British public are generous at times of crisis and particularly at this time of year, and we want to see all charitable contributions count," she said.

"This appeal from the Disasters Emergency Committee will help address the substantial humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan right now.

"While most fund-raising is genuine, the regulator warns that fraudsters and criminals may sometimes take advantage of public generosity at times of increased giving, using various methods such as fake appeal websites, email appeals that falsely use the name of genuine charities, or appeals from fake charities."

The commission is encouraging people to ensure they support genuine relief efforts by checking the aid group they are donating to is registered with them.

There are 474 charities on the charity register that list Afghanistan as an area they work in overseas.

The Afghanistan appeal has given a warning that one million children are at risk of dying this winter from malnutrition as temperatures are set to drop to -12C.

It says 95 per cent of people will not have enough food.

More than three million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by March 2022, with at least a million of them at risk of dying.

Prince Charles, patron of DEC charity International Rescue Committee UK, has urged people to support Afghanistan.

“The situation in Afghanistan is truly catastrophic. More than half the population will face acute hunger and freezing temperatures this Winter, including one million children under five who could die unless they receive immediate treatment for malnutrition," he said.

“This is why I am so grateful that some of the world’s biggest charities have come together to launch an emergency appeal to support people in Afghanistan.

Tufail Hussain, from Islamic Relief, Maryann Home, from the Red Cross and Saleh Saeed from the Disasters Emergency Committee launch an appeal to raise funds for children in Afghanistan. Photo: PA

“I am proud to support this collective effort to provide the people of Afghanistan with emergency food, nutritional support for children and Winter kits to help them stay warm. The International Rescue Committee has been on the ground in Afghanistan for thirty years and despite everything, they are increasing their efforts to reach those most in need.”

The UK government is matching pound-for-pound the first £10 million donated by the public to the appeal.

In its first five days the appeal raised £17.5m.

“The British people have shown incredible generosity and the UK is determined to do all we can for the people of Afghanistan," UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

"We have doubled our aid this year to save lives, protect women and girls and support stability in the region.”

To make a donation to the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk.

Updated: December 23rd 2021, 9:51 AM